RepositoryScottish Catholic Archives
TitleSt Margaret's Convent
DescriptionLouis-Marie Baudouin & Charlotte-Gabrielle Ranfray

First Ursulines of Jesus: Louis-Marie BadouinLouis-Marie Baudouin

In September 1789, the year that the French Revolution broke out, Louis-Marie Baudouin was ordained priest. Refusing to obey a law to bring priests under the control of the revolutionary government he was imprisoned twice. After this he went into exile in Spain where he lived for five years. While in exile he thought of all those suffering in his own country and he longed to be able to do something. He returned to France in 1797. However, he had to go into hiding again in Sables d’Olonne from where he set about, in secret, providing for the spiritual needs of the people who had been deprived of Mass and the sacraments for a long time.

First Ursulines of Jesus Was CharlotteGabrielle Ranfray

It was there he met Charlotte-Gabrielle Ranfray.

Charlotte was a Hospitaliere Sister in La Rochelle. After 17 years of community life, doing the work she loved, her life was shattered as one of the effects of the French revolution was the closing of many convents. On meeting Louis-Marie he invited her to forget “the sweet solitude of her monastery and live in the midst of the world in order to go out to the poor; the helpless; the children who were in need of education; all the sick who needed nursing; and to help priests in their mission of evangelisation”.

Then began the Congregation of the Daughters of the Incarnate Word, now known as Ursulines of Jesus.
Our Beginnings
The first Ursulines of Jesus illustrationThe first Ursulines of Jesus
On July 2nd 1802 Charlotte Gabrielle Ranfray arrived at Chavagnes-en-Paillers, in La Vendee, France in a cart, with five companions. In this parish devastated by the revolution they came to open a modest boarding school for young girls, at the request of the new parish priest, Louis-Marie Baudouin.
Chavagnes-en-Paillers photoMother House of Ursulines of Jesus, Chavagnes-en-Paillers
In post revolutionary France the first Sisters were involved in rebuilding the Church through prayer, educating children, nursing the sick, working with priests and restoring family life.

As time went on the Sisters began to increase in numbers. During the following 32 years, community spread into other parts of post-revolutionary France. Chavagnes-en-Paillers became the cradle of the congregation.
Our Journey
First Foundation in each country

France: Chavagnes 1802
Scotland: Edinburgh 1834
Wales: Swansea 1860
Spain: Victoria 1882
England: London 1894
Italy: Albenga 1903
Holland: Maastricht 1904 - 1995
N. Ireland: Coleraine 1906 -1930
W. Canada: Edmonton 1911
USA: Waterville 1911-1920
Morocco: Rabat 1938-1946
S. Ireland: Dundalk 1949
Cameroon: Saint Andre 1952
Chile: Chiloe 1953
E. Canada: Lafleche 1953-1971
Nigeria: Gambar 1973-1995
Bolivia: San Ignacio 1977
Ecuador: Santa Barbara 1994
Madagascar: Sisters of Niort 2016

Letter to Sr Agnes Trail as she left Chavagnes for Edinburgh:

“To the glory of Jesus & Mary & for the love of Jesus & Mary, let us go and save souls in this large (grande) island. Here is the word to my daughter Sr Agnes. Jesus said to his apostles when sending them on Mission: ‘ learn from me that I am gentle and humble of heart’. Give yourself, my daughter, completely to the practice of these two virtues.”
— Signed LMB Priest 1834

And so our journey spread outside of France. Sr Agnes Trail and Sr Margaret Clapperton following their formation in Chavagnes arrived in Edinburgh with five French sisters to open the first religious house post-Reformation in Scotland. This was the beginning of the movement of the congregation outside of France.

The archive consistes of, Constitutions; administration; correspondence; inventories; spiritual compilations; school; annals; admissions; Berwick Convent; newspapers; photographs; scrapbook; sacramental registers; Edinburgh finance; legal business; property and buildings; deaths and burials; Charleston Estate management; community meetings; books and printed material; paintings; relics and objects
Physical DescriptionManuscript; typescript; printed; photographs; bound volumes
AccessConditionsOpen for consultation, some sections closed as they hold personal data subject to the Data Protection Act

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